A well-watered garden is essential to helping plants thrive. This is why University of Missouri Extension horticulturist Tom Fowler recently shared his tips for novices and experts alike.
First, watering at night is essential to ensuring that plants stay wet. When gardeners give their plants water first thing in the morning, it may evaporate before it reaches the roots, eliminating any potential benefits.
Next, Fowler says it’s best to avoid spraying water on leaves. Instead, he suggests focusing on the root zone. By watering leaves, gardeners may unknowingly create an environment where diseases and fungi thrive.
When watering plants’ roots, Fowler suggests giving them a thorough soaking. Light, daily watering can potentially create a shallow root system. Long, less frequent waterings allow the soil to remain wet at least six to eight inches below the surface.
One tip that Fowler recommends is to have a long screwdriver on hand near the garden. If the screwdriver tip easily penetrates six inches or so into the soil, there is enough water.
Another suggestion that Fowler has for gardeners is to consider drip or trickle irrigation. Watering by hand may be limiting, as it only allows water to go where needed.
Finally, Fowler recommends soil testing to determine a garden’s specific needs. Testing can give gardeners insight into what their soil requires in order to develop plants that thrive.
More information on gardening can be found on the MU Extension’s Master Gardener website at mg.missouri.edu or by contacting a local MU Extension center.